As I get older, my parents start to get smarter and smarter. Funny, isn’t it? Now that I am no longer a youngster and have been on my own for quite some time, I have found new appreciation for my parents and how they molded me into who I am today. For that reason, I wrote them a letter. Here is an excerpt:
Dear Mom and Dad –
I want to thank you for all that you have done for me. It goes much deeper than providing food, shelter, and cold hard cash.
From the time I was little, I always knew that I could come to you for anything. Yes, anything. I distinctly remember coming to you and asking you where I came from. I was really little (3 or 4). I remember you going into all kinds of details about the mommy and daddy falling in love. You didn’t answer my question, though, until I said, “But what hospital?”. All that work and all I wanted to know was what hospital I came from. Little did I know at the time that I was actually born at home! It was at that point that I realized I could ask you anything. It was safe.
You raised me to be fearless. Because I was able to ask you anything, I was not afraid to ask questions in general. I challenged things when I felt they weren’t as they should be. In 2nd grade, I told you that I was being dismissed and physically pushed out-of-the-way by a teacher. You immediately took action and set up a meeting with the teacher. You sat me down and explained how you handled the teacher and what happened in the meeting. The teacher was shocked to learn that we talked to one another and that you knew exactly what happened. That was the last time I was pushed aside and dismissed in that class.
I was always inquisitive and wanted to be part of your lives. Maybe that is because I was an only child, but you let me be part of the ‘adult’ world when it made sense.
Thank you, Dad, for reading Mother Goose and other books EVERY NIGHT until you were dreaming about them! I also learned my states and all the capitals due to that puzzle we had and put together at least weekly. When I started in a new school in 6th grade, they were taking a test of the 50 states. I got 100%. 🙂
You also helped me build a doorbell buzzer for my 6th grade science project – “Electromagnetism and You”. You were always ready to show me how things worked and I was allowed to let my imagination run wild. You are the reason I went into Electrical Engineering. You are the reason that I had no problem fixing our ceiling fan – wires all over the place – I worked methodically through the problem as you would and, when I was in doubt, I had you on the phone to talk me through it. (Yes, I am a geek).
You supported me when I challenged authority (in a respectful manner, of course). We talked it out and you backed me 100%. You never treated me differently and I have grown up thinking that everyone is the same. Everyone can take a credit card, look at it for a few seconds, and know all the numbers, forwards and backwards, even years later. What? That is weird? I had no idea until I became the center of attention at parties in college! I thought everyone could do that.
I have also grown to not notice color, race, creed, whatever. Sounds too good to be true, but looking back, I feel like I’ve somehow been in a bubble. Remember when I was a loan servant in Michigan with my first job out of college? One night, a co-worker who was in town from Arizona and I went to dinner. I was really annoyed that an older woman was looking at me and shaking her head and basically disapproving. Was I not dressed appropriately? Did I have something on my face? I finally mentioned this to my co-worker. He turned around to see the woman, turned back to me, and laughed.
“Wendy, she doesn’t like to see salt and pepper.”
Huh? To this day, I will never forgive that ignorant woman. I can totally see her, sitting in that booth, her wrinkly skin and grey hair. She ruined everything!! From that point on, every time that co-worker and I were together in public, I was very aware that he was African-American. Until that point, I had honestly never thought one way or another about it. That was due to how you raised me.
I can go on and on. The important thing is that I want to thank you for raising me as you did and being who you are. We have had our disagreements from time to time, but we have always been a team. When others have failed us, we have always had each other.
I love you and thank you. I am who I am because of both of you!
I’ve handwritten the letter and will be presenting it to my parents this weekend. You folks get the first glimpse of a good portion of it!